At Cummins, we believe that when we see discrimination and intolerance toward our colleagues, friends and neighbors, we owe it to ourselves, our communities and each other to stand up and say something.
Discrimination and intolerance have no place in our company, in our communities or in our country. Today, divisive rhetoric that isolates minority groups is undermining our ability to see the commonalities we share and inhibiting our efforts to improve our communities.
It is wrong to use fear of those who are different to further enshrine discrimination against individuals for political purposes. For example, incendiary and discriminatory language is being aimed at those who are Muslim. Just securing basic human rights for our LGBT citizens has become a major culture war. For African-Americans this is a particularly troubling time.
While racism still exists in America today, what has happened in Ferguson, Missouri, Chicago, Illinois, and a number of other cities feels different. The level of mistrust between those who are charged to protect and serve and African-Americans has created a toxic environment.
People are making incorrect assumptions about individuals because of the color of their skin or the fact they hold a badge. And we will not stop this cycle of fear and mistrust without everyone working together to put their assumptions aside and tackle the real issues of poverty, opportunity and education that are facing us as a country.
Cummins has for decades advocated for those who have been marginalized or oppressed. We supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in the organization of the March on Washington in 1963. We stood up against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s by withdrawing our business from the country.
We opposed measures to ban gay marriage in several states, and we are currently working to advocate for a comprehensive non-discrimination statute in Indiana. Why? Because at Cummins we believe that no company can be successful over the long run unless the communities in which we operate are also strong and successful.
As we continue to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I am asking all of you who share our values to speak up when you see or hear discrimination and intolerance.
We must be clear that we are not OK with discrimination against our friends, neighbors and colleagues. They are contrary to our values and contrary to the ideals that built this country of immigrants.
For those of us who are committed to the principles of diversity and social justice, it is our duty to stand up and be heard. Let’s speak up for those who need a voice and make our communities stronger and more inclusive.
Tom Linebarger is chairman and chief executive officer of Cummins Inc., a Fortune 500 company and diesel engine maker based in Columbus.